GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has crafted a reputation as a tough man who speaks his mind and doesn’t suffer fools or political correctness.
But beneath the gruff exterior there’s a softer side of the New York mogul who, nearly three decades ago, saved a Georgia family farm from foreclosure.
Lenard Dozier Hill III was about to lose his farm–that had been in his family for three generations–to the auction block the morning of Feb. 4, 1986, Atlanta Journal Constitution political reporter Jim Galloway recounted Monday.
In his despair, Hill committed suicide, leaving behind a stack of papers and life insurance policies to cover the mortgage. Or so he thought. The policies all excluded suicide, and none of them would pay.
That’s where Trump came in.
The story of the “farmer killer” bank went national as Atlanta businessman Frank Argenbright began organizing an effort to save the farm for Hill’s stricken family. With cranks and swindlers crawling out of the woodwork, Argenbright became discouraged.
Then his assistant told him someone claiming to be Donald Trump had just rung, offering to help. Suspicious, Argenbright returned the call, demanding the man who answered prove he was really Trump.
“Herschel Walker works for me,” Trump answered. Walker, the famous University of Georgia running back, then was the star of Trump’s ill-fated New Jersey Generals USFL team.
“Well, Mr. Trump, I apologize,” Argenbright said.
Trump negotiated with the bank and helped raise enough cash to burn the Hill’s mortgage at his Manhattan Trump Tower, contributing some of the last $78,000 himself.
“We saw a whole different side of him that was kindhearted, to reach out to us, to help us,” Hill’s daughter Betsy Sharp, now 49, said. “Most people don’t know and see that side. All they see is just the ‘blurt’ that people put on the TV. They don’t see the other side of him, and that’s what my family got to experience.”
Argenbright feels the same way. “He couldn’t have been nicer. He took care of them and stayed in touch with them after that,” he said. “He had no ulterior motive.”
Watch the video of a much-younger Trump below.